As the nights draw in and the temperature drops it's time to start thinking about winter. Don't let the hot summer this year fool you, we've not migrated to warmer climates. Cold, wind, ice and storms are on their way, and if last year was anything to go by then the snow is coming too.
As we saw last year, winter weather can cause havoc on the roads. Cars were breaking down, sliding off the road and getting stranded in the snow for days.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREPARE FOR WHAT LIES AHEAD?
CHECK YOUR BATTERY
Cold and damp weather can put a strain on your battery, making it more likely to fail and leave you with a non-starter in the morning. In fact, you're 51% more likely to have battery trouble in the winter than you are any other time of the year.
You can use a battery tester to check if your battery is holding a full charge. If it's low, you can recharge it or replace it, depending on how old the unit is and how much you're willing to spend. A well-charged battery is essential if you want to be sure your car starts first time through the cold winter months
FILL UP YOUR ANTIFREEZE
Antifreeze does pretty much what it says on the tin. It stops the water in your car's engine from freezing when the temperature outside falls.
Failing to keep your antifreeze topped can lead to engine trouble and in worst cases serious damage. You can check your antifreeze levels and the efficacy of your fluid with an antifreeze test kit.
A fresh bottle will cost you around £5-£10 so it's a simple task to tick off the list.
CLEAN YOUR WIPERS & TOP UP YOUR SCREEN WASH
Poor visibility can cause accidents and a dirty windscreen makes it hard to see. Check your wipers are working and give them a clean, wiping any dirt or mud from them. If they are old, replace them. If there's one thing a British winter is sure to bring it is rain. Check your screen wash levels too. There's nothing worse than finding yourself on a dual carriageway with a dirty windscreen and no way to clean it.
CHECK YOUR LIGHTS
It's good practice to check your lights regularly, but as winter draws in it becomes even more essential. Check all your lights are functioning, including brake lights and fog lamps. Replace any bulbs that are gone and keep spares in your car just in case. In many countries throughout Europe, it's a legal requirement to carry a full set of Bulbs at all times!
CHECK YOUR TYRES
Your tyres should be checked regularly and there are hefty fines and penalties for driving with a bald one. It's not uncommon to be issued points on your licence or even be taken to court if you're caught with tyres that are worn below the legal limit.
BUT WINTER MAKES IT EVEN MORE IMPORTANT.
When the roads are wet or icy your grip will be compromised. You need good tyres with a decent tread to be sure you keep control of your car and don't end up in an accident. It's good practice to have a set of winter tyres for the colder months. These are specifically designed to cope with the wet and icy roads, keeping you in control and helping you get home safely.
PACK AN EMERGENT KIT
A few years ago this might have seemed extreme but after last winter, it's a must. In February this year the UK was covered in the most snow we've seen in decades. Roads were closed, cars were being abandoned and, in some places, people were totally stranded for days and the army were called in to bring supplies. Hopefully, we won't see a repeat of that, but it's good to be prepared.
YOUR EMERGENCY KIT SHOULD INCLUDE:
- A mobile phone & charger
- A fully charged power bank in case your car battery goes flat
- A hazard warning triangle
- Hi-visibility vest
- A first aid kit
- De-icer and a scraper
- A shovel
- A tow rope
- Wellington boots
- A torch
- Warm clothes and Blankets
- Food and Drink